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Utz seals $1.56 billion merger deal

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Utz Quality Food's High Street facility in Hanover Thursday, May 14, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Utz will soon be headed to the New York Stock Exchange after nearly 100 years under private ownership.

Hanover-based Utz Quality Foods and Collier Creek Holdings entered into a merger agreement Friday to form Utz Brands Inc., company officials said in a news release.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of Collier Creek and Utz and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020. Once the transaction is complete, Collier Creek will become a Delaware-based corporation and the name will be changed to Utz Brands Inc.

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The new publicly listed company will have an expected initial enterprise value of approximately $1.56 billion, the release states.

Utz Brands is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol UTZ, company officials said.

Dylan Lissette, Utz's CEO since 2013, will continue to lead the business, along with the existing management team. Utz Brands will remain headquartered in Hanover. 

"This transaction enables Utz to continue its long-term growth plans and provides greater access to capital to fund organic and inorganic growth," Lissette said. "We remain deeply committed to Utz's continued success."

The Rices and Lissettes, the founding families and owners of Utz, will retain more than 90% of its existing equity stake, which will represent more than 50% ownership in Utz Brands upon completion of the transaction, the release said.

Utz Quality Food's Carlisle Street facility in Hanover Thursday, May 14, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Collier Creek was co-founded by Chinh Chu, Roger Deromedi and Jason Giordano. Deromedi, who was previously chair of Pinnacle Foods and CEO of Kraft Foods, will become chair of Utz Brands.

Utz, founded in 1921, operates 14 manufacturing facilities in eight states. The company acquired Illinois-based snack company Kitchen Cooked in January, including its brand, direct store delivery operations and manufacturing operations.

Utz also entered into a merger agreement with Arizona-based Inventure Foods in 2017, which allowed it to sell its brands, including TGI Fridays and Nathan's Famous.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.

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